Posted by: Cathy | March 14, 2018

Systems to support your art: Evening routine

Routines help you cultivate behaviors you want more of. If you want to get fit, you need to create a fitness routine. If you want to have a daily writing practice, you need to create a writing routine.

If you want to create more time in your schedule, it helps to create an evening routine.

An intentional evening routine can help you relax and detach from the activity from the day, process your experiences, and prepare for a good night’s sleep, to set you up for a positive morning.

An effective evening routine looks different for everyone. The best way to design one for yourself is to think about what healthy practices you want to incorporate into your day. Then build a plan to incorporate these practices.

For example, when I get home from work, I greet my pets and take off my work clothes. I put on some fitness clothes and set up my yoga mat. Stretching is a great way to release tension, and yoga in particular helps you notice your breath and ground your energy. Then I take a shower, and then I make a simple dinner. After dinner, I do a writing practice that I call “integration,” processing what happened or didn’t happen that day and releasing it.

Another key part of my evening routine is my “Tech No” hour. An hour before I want to be in bed, I need to turn off all devices (phone, computer, television, e-reader, anything that gives off screen light) and let my eyes relax. Some nights, I even switch to candlelight during “Tech No” to give my eyes even more rest, and some nights I get bored with no devices and even go to bed early! But there are lots of things you can do without tech: use the time to journal with pen and paper, color, doodle, read paper books, meditate, do yin yoga, gaze at the moon, brush your cat, pick out your clothes for the next day, clutter clear a drawer, etc.

An evening routine can help you better transition from work, to home and family, to sleep. Create routines to setup clear boundaries for each of those aspects of your day and it will help you detach, relax, and unwind.
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Posted by: Cathy | March 12, 2018

Finding time vs Making space

To really fit creativity into your “real life,” it’s not about finding time but rather making space.

Time is elusive and expandable. When you’re doing something you don’t like, it can seem to last for hours. When you’re doing something you enjoy, it can seem like just a few minutes have passed. “Finding time” is unreliable.

Say you want to write a novel. That could take many hours over many months to complete. You could carve out 30 minutes per day to write, but that’s not enough. You also need to make space to write, mentally and emotionally as well as physically and temporally.

If you’re stressed about a challenge at work, you don’t have the mental space to write. If you had a fight with a friend, you don’t have the emotional space to write. If your desk is a mess and you need to clear it off before you can put down your laptop, you don’t have the physical space to write. If your schedule is overbooked, you don’t have the temporal space (aka “time”) to write. All of these kinds of space are important to your creative work.

So, how do we make space?

“The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.” John C. Maxwell

Mental and emotional space can be made by journaling and meditation. Have a regular practice to release stressors, process strong emotions, examine unhelpful habits and patterns, brainstorm solutions, and focus on gratitude.

Physical space can be made with regular chores and clutter clearing. It’s tough to get started, but easier to maintain if you work on it weekly.

Temporal space can also be made with clutter clearing. Notice how you prioritize your time; schedule in the important things (like your creativity!) and let the less important things contract to the remaining time available. Try doing important things in the first half of the day, when you still have some semblance of control before life happens.

Notice where you can make different kinds of space in your life. These types of space are important for our health and sanity. “White space” is an important concept in marketing; too much visual information is overwhelming and diffuses the key messages. Make space for yourself and your creativity.

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Posted by: Cathy | March 7, 2018

Everyone is Creative

Everyone is creative. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a creative person, you probably still cook, pick outfits to wear each day, compose emails, and decorate your home. These are also creative tasks. Any time you combine elements to make something new, you are being creative.

You can cultivate being creative; it’s something to practice throughout the day. Be available to the creative force and notice whenever you’re doing something creative. Just appreciate that you’re doing something creative, and praise yourself for your curiosity, imagination, and ingenuity. The more you notice your “everyday” creativity, the more creative you’ll feel and the more confidence you’ll have for trying new creative projects.

What did you do today that was creative?
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Posted by: Cathy | March 5, 2018

Work/Art Balance is about Living your Values

The core of finding Work/Art Balance is to live your values. If creativity is important to you, if you value it, don’t let a day go by where you skip being creative.

If you haven’t been living your values, start small. Choose a small way to flex your creativity and take action, gradually building up your creative habits. Brainstorm more short, creative activities to add to this list.

If you have 5 minutes:
* Watch the sunrise and identify the different colors in the clouds.
* Describe the breeze on your face.
* Write a love note for a friend or partner.

If you have 15 minutes:
* Doodle or color.
* Write a limerick or haiku.
* Create a delicious meal plan for the week. (Cooking is creative!)

If you have 30 minutes:
* Make a digital collage.
* Do a pencil study of your pet.
* Outline the next chapter of your novel.

Fight for even the smallest amount of time to live your creative values every day. As you see how much your life improves with those activities, you’ll gain momentum and determination to fight for longer stretches of time.

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Posted by: Cathy | February 28, 2018

Leap Ahead on your Goals

It’s not a leap year, but you can make a leap in your life at any time.

Maybe you’re stalled on a project or bogged down with unrelated things grasping for your time. Pick a day, whether on a weekend or take a vacation day from work, and make it a Leap Day!

For help brainstorming and planning your leap day, check out my free ebooklet, “Create a Leap Day,” to help you execute it. Download it here under Project Planning.

Where could you use a leap forward?

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Posted by: Cathy | February 26, 2018

Where could you take a creative risk?

In general, I don’t take a lot of risks. I am very risk-averse with my finances. I don’t want to jump out of airplanes. And yet, sometimes it pays to take a creative risk.

When I’m stuck on my fiction writing, one of my block-busting activities is to write sex scenes. They’re usually not even related to my main fiction project. I just write what I refer to as “smutty fluff”; “smutty” as in I let myself be as graphic as I want and “fluff” in that it’s not important, it’s just for fun. Letting myself write fast and dirty can often help me loosen up enough to get back to my main project after a day or two.

Even if you don’t feel called to take a creative risk right now, think of a thing or two you could try when the mood strikes or when you need a rush of energy.

Where could you take a creative risk?
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Posted by: Cathy | February 21, 2018

Keep choosing yourself

When we consciously choose how we spend our days, we are choosing how we live our lives.

Notice what you’re choosing and make sure that you choose yourself, your art, and your intention every day.

I have a day-job. I choose the relative security of bi-weekly paychecks over the stress of trying to freelance. That means I’m also choosing less free time and flexibility, so I need to make my free time count. So I choose 30 minutes per day on my creative writing and on learning Italian language, which are my priority projects this year.

What are you choosing? Have you chosen yourself and your priorities yet today?
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Posted by: Cathy | February 19, 2018

Why creativity is worth it

You and I know that creativity is worth it, even if it isn’t valued in mainstream society.

We constantly hear about art and music programs being cut in schools. We all know the “starving artist” myth; that making art or creative writing won’t pay the bills.

And yet we do it anyway. We know the truth.

  • We know how it feels to flow creatively, how we feel alive and awake in that flow and afterward we feel more like ourselves.
  • We know how doing creative work grounds and centers us, so we can be more present in other areas of our lives.
  • We know how exciting it is to see what another artist or writer has done, to take a few steps in their shoes and see through their eyes, and know we’re not alone.
  • We know that art makes life worth living.

Creativity is worth it every time. Every minute you spend on your creativity is time well spent.

What worthy creative work are you doing today?
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Posted by: Cathy | February 14, 2018

Systems to support your art: Meal Planning

If you want to create more time in your schedule for your creative interests, meal planning is a system that can help.

I’ve heard that we can only make so many choices in a day, and knowing what you’re going to eat for the week can free up your mind to make more important (read: creative) choices, as well as streamline your meal preparation time.

For example, I try to eat 3 meals per day and two snacks. My breakfast is almost identical every day (coffee, juice, croissant), and my morning snack is usually a bowl of instant oatmeal or a granola bar. For my lunches, I try to cook a casserole on Sundays to portion out for the week, or I’ll have cans of soup and a loaf of bread ready to go. My afternoon snack is usually some kind of cheese and crackers. Then for dinner I can steam some veggies and have a vegetarian “chik” patty, or make a serving of spaghetti with red sauce.

I typically do my meal planning on Fridays. I’ll review my favorite grocery store ad to see what is on sale that week to save me extra money and I’ll build my menu around those tempting sale items (e.g., this week’s lunch casserole is from a sale on eggplants).

By having something ready-made and quick to prepare, I save time and energy on my meals, and I can use that time and energy on my creative pursuits.

Give it a try! Meal planning can feed you literally and also feed your creative pursuits!

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Posted by: Cathy | February 12, 2018

Six weeks in, what is stopping you on your intention?

We are six weeks into the year and I invite you to check in:

  • Are you making progress on your intention for the year?
  • What resistance or obstacles are coming up?
  • What is stopping you on your intention?

Never did the course of true love run smooth, and never did a New Year’s intention go off without a hitch. By noticing what is tripping you up, you can tweak your process and build up immunity to those problems. Other problems will arise, and you can check in again in six more weeks, rinse, and repeat.

For me personally, I’ve had difficulty focusing and maintaining my daily routines. Routines are there to help me mindfully build the kind of day and life I want to have, so I’m recommitting to my routines and will try to see what is tripping them up, then tweak them if necessary.

It isn’t the absence of problems that allows us to succeed, but in overcoming those problems and continuing forward.
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